The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Trap at every turn

Calcutta, Oct. 15: Confronted by the death of a six-month-old child, state CPM secretary Anil Biswas had wondered on Tuesday how a rally on College Street could have choked life on Canning Street on Monday.

Here’s how. Calcutta police, working under a government that his party leads, were geared on Monday to clear the way not for traffic, but for the marching students and youths belonging to the CPM and other Left Front constituents in protest against a court order restricting rallies.

Not that the traffic wing had too many options before it. As the rally — comprising thousands of activists of nine student and youth fronts — poured into Nirmal Chandra Chandra Street from Bowbazar Street, police found that the ripple effect was being faced by traffic on Central Avenue as well.

“More and more cars were being diverted into Central Avenue, creating a logjam there,” explained a sergeant, who was on duty on Monday.

Police officers did the only thing they could do. With sergeants in the centre of the city relaying the panic-message to their colleagues near Howrah bridge, traffic pouring into the city from across the river was being “regulated”.

In common man’s parlance, “regulated” — in such circumstances — means deliberately slowing down the speed of vehicles, say officials. As a result of the regulation, Shabana Parveen gasped for breath and her parents fretted inside a stationary taxi on Canning Street.

“Besides Canning Street, Brabourne Road, Pollock Street and India Exchange Place all felt the effects of our regulation,” an officer said, arguing that choking traffic on these roads was the only way to prevent the arterial Central Avenue from clogging up.

This should explain to Biswas and advocate-general Balai Ray and all other advocates of their line why Monday’s rally had something to do with Shabana’s death.

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